Friday, June 20, 2008



I found the following reviews in the web site of the library of the US Central Intelligence Agency at

Intelligence Services AbroadB. Raman, The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 2007), 294 pp., index.
———, Intelligence: Past, Present and Future (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 2002), 416 pp., bibliography, index.
K. Sankaran Nair, Inside IB and RAW: The Rolling Stone that Gathered Moss (New Delhi, Manus Publications, 2008), index.

History has always been important to retired Indian intelligence officer B. Raman. In Kaoboys of R&AW, citing the CIA “historical division”precedent, (27) he reveals that in 1983 Rameshwar Nath Kao, the first chief of India’s foreign intelligence service—the Research & AnalysisWing—established a historical section. Unfortunately, it was abolished in 1984 when Kao left office. Raman was not surprised; he knew thatin India organizational change often followed new leadership. Raman had joined the Indian Police Service in 1961 and was transferred in1967 to the External Division of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), then India’s foreign intelligence element. He became a Kaoboy when R&AW wasestablished as an independent entity in 1968. After assignments in Paris and Geneva, he headed the Counter-Terrorism Division from 1988to 1994 and then retired to accept a cabinet secretariat position, where he served on various antiterrorism commissions and testified twicebefore the US Congress. After his permanent retirement, citing the precedents set by retired CIA officers, he decided to write thesememoirs.

Kaoboys of R&AW tells about India’s struggle to develop a full range of intelligence service capabilities while at war with Pakistan and Chinaand while managing conflicts among religious factions and dealing with tribal disputes on its borders. Raman also examines charges of CIAdisinformation campaigns and covert action operations against India, R&AW efforts to counter domestic and foreign terrorist acts, and theconstant turf battles with the Indian domestic intelligence service, the IB.

The book has two central themes. The first is the relationship of R&AW to the prime ministers under which it served, and the problemscreated when two of them were assassinated. Those unfamiliar with India get a sense of its political history. The second theme is thepervasive threat to national security from Pakistan and separatist groups as well as the actions taken to deal with provocations andincidents. Raman does not provide operational detail in terms of tradecraft or case studies. There is a chapter on R&AW relations withforeign intelligence agencies that concentrates on high-level contacts with the CIA and French services. An example of the latter is a visitto the CIA by Kao where he is received positively by DCI George Bush. He views the relationship with the CIA as a mix of cooperation wheninterests coincide and the reality of the operational imperative. As an example of the latter, he mentions instances in which the CIArecruited two R&AW officers. He does not mention the reverse possibility.
Kaoboys of R&AW gives a good high-level overview of the formation, evolution, and current status of the Indian intelligence services.

In his earlier book, Intelligence, Raman presents a survey of Indian intelligence from colonial times, when the IB was created (he calls it the“world’s second oldest internal security agency”—the French being the first) (1)—to the present eight intelligence agencies that form India’sintelligence community. His approach is topical, covering all elements of modern intelligence—military, political, technical, collection,analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, oversight, and management of the intelligence process. For comparison, he often refers to theexperience of US intelligence agencies and the commissions formed to investigate them. For example, as a basis for establishing India’smilitary intelligence element, he cites in great detail the precedents of DIA’s formation and its evolution. (31–36) Similarly, the NSA, NRO,NGA and related agencies provide the rationale for counterparts in India. When discussing the requirement for good counterintelligence,examples from the UK are cited and the Aldrich Ames case is analyzed as an exemplar of what should and should not be done.

In short, Raman’s Intelligence is a text book by an experienced intelligence officer who certainly understands the fundamental elements ofthe profession and provides a framework for successful operations, not only in India, but in any democratic society.

K. Sankaran Nair’s Inside IB & RAW does not deserve the professional attention Raman’s books have received. Although the dust jacketclaims Nair served as a head of R&AW, in fact, he held the post for less than 3 months in the 1970s.(174) He spent more time in the IB, andthe book has some interesting stories about his attempts in the 1960s to advise recently formed African nations about security services.Overall, though, he provides little beyond anecdotal “scribblings”(95) focusing on personal episodes and dealings with his superiors that areof no great intelligence value. It is a memoir covering his entire life, and while it no doubt recounts some impressive politicalaccomplishments, it is primarily of local interest and a minor contribution to the intelligence literature.